Posts Tagged ‘Etc.’

Quotes of the Day

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From one of the few true Republicans that ever walked this Earth.

No man should receive a dollar unless that dollar has been fairly earned. Every dollar received should represent a dollar’s worth of service rendered – not gambling in stocks, but service rendered. The really big fortune, the swollen fortune, by the mere fact of its size acquires qualities which differentiate it in kind as well as in degree from what is possessed by men of relatively small means. Therefore, I believe in a graduated income tax on big fortunes, and in another tax which is far more easily collected and far more effective – a graduated inheritance tax on big fortunes, properly safeguarded against evasion and increasing rapidly in amount with the size of the estate.
– Theodore Roosevelt, speech at Osawatomie, Kansas, “The New Nationalism” (August 31, 1910)

And one more…

“We are not attacking the corporations, but endeavoring to do away with any evil in them.  We are not hostile to them; we are merely determined that they shall be so handled as to subserve the public good.  We draw the line against misconduct, not against wealth.”

– Theodore Roosevelt

 


Quote… or should I say speech… of the day.

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Sadly, no one will ever see the tape of the guy that gave the speech because TED, a site I love and until today used to respect, won’t show it.  It was given by Nick Hanauer,  a Seattle-based venture capitalist.

It is astounding how significantly one idea can shape a society and its policies.  Consider this one.
If taxes on the rich go up, job creation will go down. 
This idea is an article of faith for republicans and seldom challenged by democrats and has shaped much of today’s economic landscape.
But sometimes the ideas that we know to be true are dead wrong. For thousands of years people were sure that earth was at the center of the universe.  It’s not, and an astronomer who still believed that it was, would do some lousy astronomy. 
In the same way, a policy maker who believed that the rich and businesses are “job creators” and therefore should not be taxed, would make equally bad policy. 
I have started or helped start, dozens of businesses and initially hired lots of people. But if no one could have afforded to buy what we had to sell, my businesses would all have failed and all those jobs would have evaporated.
That’s why I can say with confidence that rich people don’t create jobs, nor do businesses, large or small. What does lead to more employment is a “circle of life” like feedback loop between customers and businesses. And only consumers can set in motion this virtuous cycle of increasing demand and hiring. In this sense, an ordinary middle-class consumer is far more of a job creator than a capitalist like me.
So when businesspeople take credit for creating jobs, it’s a little like squirrels taking credit for creating evolution. In fact, it’s the other way around.
Anyone who’s ever run a business knows that hiring more people is a capitalists course of last resort, something we do only when increasing customer demand requires it.  In this sense, calling ourselves job creators isn’t just inaccurate, it’s disingenuous.
That’s why our current policies are so upside down. When you have a tax system in which most of the exemptions and the lowest rates benefit the richest, all in the name of job creation, all that happens is that the rich get richer.
Since 1980 the share of income for the richest Americans has more than tripled while effective tax rates have declined by close to 50%. 
If it were true that lower tax rates and more wealth for the wealthy  would lead to more job creation, then today we would be drowning in jobs.  And yet unemployment and under-employment is at record highs.
Another reason this idea is so wrong-headed is that there can never be enough superrich Americans to power a great economy. The annual earnings of people like me are hundreds, if not thousands, of times greater than those of the median American, but we don’t buy hundreds or thousands of times more stuff. My family owns three cars, not 3,000. I buy a few pairs of pants and a few shirts a year, just like most American men. Like everyone else, we go out to eat with friends and family only occasionally.
I can’t buy enough of anything to make up for the fact that millions of unemployed and underemployed Americans can’t buy any new clothes or cars or enjoy any meals out. Or to make up for the decreasing consumption of the vast majority of American families that are barely squeaking by, buried by spiraling costs and trapped by stagnant or declining wages. 
Here’s an incredible fact.  If the typical American family still got today the same share of income they earned in 1980, they would earn about 25% more and have an astounding $13,000 more a year. Where would the economy be if that were the case?
Significant privileges have come to capitalists like me for being perceived as “job creators” at the center of the economic universe, and the language and metaphors we use to defend the fairness of the current social and economic arrangements is telling. For instance, it is a small step from “job creator” to “The Creator”. We did not accidentally choose this language. It is only honest to admit that calling oneself a “job creator” is both an assertion about how economics works and the a claim on status and privileges.
The extraordinary differential between a 15% tax rate on capital gains, dividends, and carried interest for capitalists, and the 35% top marginal rate on work for ordinary Americans is a privilege that is hard to justify without just a touch of deification
We’ve had it backward for the last 30 years. Rich businesspeople like me don’t create jobs. Rather they are a consequence of an eco-systemic  feedback loop animated by middle-class consumers, and when they thrive, businesses grow and hire, and owners profit. That’s why taxing the rich to pay for investments that benefit all is a great deal for both the middle class and the rich.
So here’s an idea worth spreading.
In a capitalist economy, the true job creators are consumers, the middle class.  And taxing the rich to make investments that grow the middle class, is the single smartest thing we can do for the middle class, the poor and the rich. 
Thank You.
The irony of this talk not being released is that it’s now all over the news that it’s not being released by TED.  However, it is being released, and rightfully so, by everybody else.  As a result, it will get far more exposure than TED would ever give it, if its appearance on YouTube is any indication.

Quote of the Day

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 “I am also saddened that the Republican party of today thinks I wanted God in the White House and to rule the nation. That is not true at all, after I was nearly assassinated I wanted God more in my own personal life. I acknowledged that I was to be here for a reason and serve him and my nation together, but they always stayed separate in my mind just as in the Constitution. The Republican party today merely just uses God as a means to get votes, and I don’t believe Jesus would want to be used as a marketing tool. I regret my decision to become Republican and if I had to do it all over again I would have remained in the Democratic party and ran on their ticket. They seem to instill the core values I believe in, such as a collective philosophy. ”

– Ronald Reagan

Go figure.


Here, in a nutshell…

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… is what the Occupy Wall Street protests are all about.


I am the 99%.

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I am 42 year-old married father of two who has spent from 2007 until now trying my best to outrun a recession that I feel has been breathing down my neck.  I am fortunate enough that both my wife and I have good jobs and stable incomes right now, but there was a time not that long ago that I was laid off twice in 6 months and when I wasn’t sure if my next paycheck was going to come, let alone clear.  I busted hump, pressed flesh, kissed ass, and basically had to prove that I was hungrier, more aggressive, and just wanted it more than my competition to get the job I have now.  The sad thing is that all 124 people who wanted the same job I got have it a lot harder.

I am the 99% and so are they.


The US wasted $31 billion in war contracts due to corruption.

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Just to give you perspective as to how much money that is over how long a period of time…

The Commission on Wartime Contracting (.pdf) concludes that “vast amounts” of contract money in Iraq and Afghanistan provided “little or no benefit” to the war efforts.  The commission confirmed $31 billion in contractor cash lost to corruption or dysfunction. But it warned that the true figure could be as high as $60 billion, or “$12 million every day for the past 10 years.”

(Firing up the Sarcasm-inator) But teachers unions, healthcare, education funding, NPR… that’s where the real problem is in America. (Sarcasm-inator off.)

The best part of this is that for all of their pissing and moaning about ‘fiscal responsibility,’ I’m pretty sure that Congress in general and Republicans in particular will do absolutely nothing about this.


Oh, how far we’ve come.

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MTV, along with the rest of the music industry, discusses the internet in 1995.  Get ready to see the less wrinkled versions of your favorite rock stars.  Bonus:  A downright coherent Ozzy Osbourne.


If there was ever an article that Congress needs to read…

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… it’s this one.

Stop Coddling the Super-Rich by Warren E. Buffett.

One question that I think should be asked… Who is coddling the coddlers?


The day our government somehow got its shit together.

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You know a government is dysfunctional when the New York Times Op-ed page starts accepting fanfiction.

That is an accurate description of  a piece of writing by Thomas Friedman, an author whom I respect and admire, even when I don’t agree with him.  The only way this article could extend beyond the realm of fantasy that it is already in would be to inject an element of porn.

This may be a cynical view to take, but from what I’ve seen, “bipartisan agreement” is right up there with “the check’s in the mail,” and “I’ll respect you in the morning.”


Putting the national debt into perspective.

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The total debt of the United States is about 14.5 trillion dollars.  That’s this much:  $14,500,000,000,000.  Now that total amount is the result of a lot of things, but one of the things that contributed to it is bailouts.  Bailouts for banks, for failing industries, Wall Street, etc.

In order to issue a bailout, Congress has to first debate and then enact legislation to allow disbursement of that money.  Surprisingly, there is one part of our government that has access to the U.S. Treasury that can just give it away.  And that they did… to the tune of $16,000,000,000,000.

Here is a partial list of the recipients of the Fed’s largess.